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Web-Based Artist Unveils an Evolving Virtual World Made from User-Uploaded Videos

We talked to LaTurbo Avedon about the work she'll be showcasing at Transmediale.
Images courtesy the artist

When net artist LaTurbo Avedon put out a call for video recordings of home environments and neighborhood landscapes for a digital project called Commons, she wanted to create a new "environment" through collective means, in the same vein as Club Rothko Builder, Klear, and even Mt. Gox Digital Gravesite. “This should be documentation of the space, as straightforward in the depiction of the place as possible,” she explained in her directions for how to participate. Avedon used the contributed clips—20 to 60 seconds in duration—to construct 3D objects in a virtual world, a project to be showcased at Transmediale next week in Berlin.


Avedon wants viewers to remember that the source material for her sculpted virtual objects are the natural and architectural elements borrowed from each of the network participants. In conjunction with the IRL installation, the virtual world will continue to evolve online. She invites her audience to download, use and appropriate the 3D object files and high-resolution images of details already created, as well as to contribute to and upgrade the virtual public space, in the pursuit of generating an intimate, final experience within the platform.

The Creators Project spoke with Avedon on Commons' inception, quirky curatorial process, and Transmediale 2015 debut:

The Creators Project: Where did you get the idea for Commons? What's the origin of this project?

Laturbo Avedon: I work with 3D environments regularly, and I had been thinking a lot about modeling a location that could be used in public projects. There are lots of photos of landscapes for use in sites like Wikimedia Commons, but I wanted to introduce virtual spaces that I find just as important. To do this I created a call for submissions of short video files that I would use to build the environment, and used these files to develop a variety of media assets.

What is Commons? What do you hope the public will discover from this work?

3D rendering software is becoming more and more of a standard tool like Photoshop or Final Cut, and I wanted to make Commons a project that could be viewed and also built into. The installation at Transmediale reflects my visitation to the space, and the URL resources allow others have their own experiences with it. I would like to think that files can have a sense of place, that we can consider games environments and 3D files as things that can be navigated.


This is not the first time that you've created a participatory work. Can you explain how you continued this exploration?

With several of my projects I have invited the public to be the driving source of material for the projects to develop. With Commons, I wanted these elements to determine more of the shape and feel of the final environment. Depending on the number of submissions the space would change considerably, and I enjoy having variables like these inside of my projects.

How did you call for submissions? How did you choose? Were you happy with the works you have received?

The call for works lasted several weeks, and I requested video assets that lasted under a minute in duration. While I had initially expected the description of a "natural environment" to be neighborhoods, natural features and other parts of their geographic locations, participants provided mostly domestic working spaces like their studios and bedrooms. I enjoyed the way that this suggestion was interpreted; it produced very different palettes of material to work with.

Can you explain your creative process? Could you give us some details concerning the technology you used?

Instead of my working materials for Commons being arbitrary images selected from search results, each piece reflects the personal environment of a user in my network. I created sculptural formations that would combine the various video assets provided to me, and worked mostly with Cinema4D to map their imagery onto the final construction.


You said you thought of Commons as an open environment for everyone. Can you expand on this? How do you imagine the evolution of this project?

I think that the concept of "modding" is a really nice possibility for works made with digital tools. Rendered images often have really expansive scenes that were used to create them, and I wanted Commons to open up some of these options. I'd love to see these resources used to create new works, however they may develop.

What's next for you?

I have several exhibitions planned for 2015, so I will be rendering for quite some time. I am hoping to bring some new things to Club Rothko, so we will see what happens there.

Visit Commons to learn more about LaTurbo Avedon's brave new world.


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